Monday, July 20, 2009

Week 11, CSA

From the Farm . . .

As you might expect, our farm report includes an update on how the farm is affected by the unseasonably cool weather and our early summer rain. Though we are running irrigation to most heavy-water-using crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, the squashes (summer and winter), and corn, the soil really benefits from spring and early summer rains like we have had this season. Plants that grow where you really don’t want them (a/k/a weeds) take advantage whenever possible to utilize the extra soil moisture and will thrive if you let them. A little bit of grass growing between your crop rows or around the perimeter offers a natural habitat for your beneficial insects (think lady bugs or parasitic wasps). It also helps to prevent the loss of your precious topsoil to wind erosion or compaction from lots of food traffic. But weeds need to be kept under control by a hoe, by hand, or even mowing or weed eating around the border of your plantings. Weeding takes much more labor than in a dry season, but is preferred over drought conditions anytime.

Longer season crops of Brussels sprouts, celery, and sweet potatoes are helped along by early rains and we’re setting up irrigation to continue to supply their needs for healthy growth.The more moderate conditions are nice for fruit set and plant harvesting and for both farm workers and market stand workers with lower humidity and temperatures in the 70s or low 80s.

Nighttime lows in the 50s, however, disrupts the growth cycle of heat-loving crops like tomatoes, melons, and peppers. People are asking us daily why their back door tomatoes won’t turn from green to ripe. It just takes longer as if you are growing the tomatoes in early fall rather than late July.

This week is the fourth straight for the harvest of sweet corn – we are pulling from patches 5 and 6. The first two plantings were ready simultaneously along with two ready this week. This is probably a good thing as we are sad to report that the raccoons have found the sweet corn. As you may recall from past years, they can destroy an entire planting in 1 or 2 nights by pulling down the stalk, taking a single bite from each ear. We are working on the electric netting to keep them out! We try not to harvest anything damaged by insects, birds, or ground predators – but in case something slips by, just slice the end off before shucking and preparing. Some corn varieties have better coverage (lengthier green shuck) over the tip than other varieties – poor shuck coverage will invite nature right into the corn.

The green bean plants continue to produce well, along with squashes and cucumbers. We’re looking ahead to harvesting onions, garlic and melons in the next couple of weeks. This is the busiest time of the year on the farm with harvesting, weeding, irrigating, transplanting and planting going on simultaneously. We will reopen our Fall Season CSA signup next week and can answer any questions on details of the 10-week October-December fall/ winter season. For now, enjoy the veggies from the summer season!

In Your Share . . .

Stringless Green Beans – organic

Savoy Cabbage - organic
This type of cabbage seems to hold so much flavor and sweetness. Use in any cabbage recipe and refrigerate prior to preparation.

Sweet Corn

Slicing Cucumber

Leeks - organic

Related to onions, leeks have a mild flavor and sweeten when cooked. Store refrigerated, they will keep for 2 weeks. Find a recipe on the Elmwood blog 8-20-07.

Green Onions – organic
You can enjoy all of this onion plant, the white stalk all the way up into the green leafy portion. Just chop finely or use a processor – use for sauté, oven roasting, soup, or this week’s recipes – in anything that calls for onion. Store refrigerated.

Green Bell Pepper
These freshly harvested green bells are packed full of flavor. They keep well for you (up to a week or more) if refrigerated. They have high nutrition including Vits. A, C & E, iron and potassium. You can easily freeze in an airtight container for later use – just wash, dry and cut into desired sized pieces, or chop finely.

Potatoes – organic
This week’s potato harvest includes a gold variety that is one of our favorites along with the all-blue potatoes. They both should be kept refrigerated and out of direct light. You can oven roast, mash, boil, make potato salad, steak fries, or hash browns. Many people comment they have never seen such odd looking blue potatoes, but they soon realize they are familiar with blue potato chips in the supermarket. Maybe they just never really thought about how potato chips are made? Like most vegetables the more color present, the more nutrition available for human health.

Tomatoes, Red – organic
These tomatoes make a nice size for an early red tomato. Most of the heirloom type are in the mid-season planting and will be coming ripe in the next several weeks. In the meantime, enjoy a red sliced on a plate with some salt, pepper, and a fork! As it is challenging to get them delivered to you perfectly ripe without risk of splitting or bruising, you may want to set some out to ripen more for a day.


Okra – organic

Store your okra in the refrigerator before preparing. You can pan fry, oven roast, or stew with tomatoes for Cajun style

Recipes to Enjoy. . .

Our thanks to a friend of the farm for the two cold salad recipes below. She says she has used these for several years and probably originally pulled them from a magazine. We’ve tried them both and give them a thumb up!

Tomato and Bread Salad

¼ lb Italian bread, torn into chunks (4 cups)
¼ cup olive oil
½ small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes (1 ½ lbs), diced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves

Toast bread on baking sheet in 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Cook onion and garlic over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place bread in large bowl and toss with tomato mixture, cucumber, and basil.

Creamy Potato Salad

2 ¼ pounds potatoes, scrubbed
3 tsp salt, divided
2 large plum tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp finely chopped onion
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp white balsamic or white-wine vinegar
½ tsp pepper
5 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Bring potatoes, 2 tsp salt, and enough cold water to cover by 2 inches to boil in a large saucepan. Cook 15 to 17 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes in colander. Rinse under cold running water just until cooled to room temperature. Drain again.

Meanwhile cook tomatoes in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes or until thick. Cool. Combine tomatoes, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar, remaining tsp salt, and pepper in food processor. Puree until smooth. Transfer to medium bowl. Set aside 1 tbsp basil strips. Add potatoes and remaining basil to dressing. Toss to coat. Top with reserved basil.

Italian Corn, recipe serves 6
from Mario Batali and Judith Sutton’s Italian Grill, they report “In Mexico, we have seen groovy little stands where the vendors poach ears of corn and then paint it with mayonnaise, dust it with chili flakes and grated queso fresco, and squeeze lime juice all over the whole thing. They do not do that in Italy, but this is what they might do.

6 ears corn, shucked
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 to 1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Hot red pepper flakes

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Place the corn on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 3 minutes, or until grill marks appear on the first side. Roll each ear over a quarter turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then repeat two more times. Meanwhile, mix the oil and vinegar on a large flat plate. Spread the Parmigiano on another flat plate. When the corn is cooked, roll each ear in the olive oil and vinegar mixture, shake off the extra liquid, and dredge in the Parmigiano to coat lightly. Place on a platter, sprinkle with the mint and pepper flakes, and serve immediately.